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jean terrell

Jean Terrell

b. Velma Jean Terrell, 26th November 1944, Belzoni, Mississippi, U.S.A.

Velma Jean Terrell was born in 1944 in Belzoni, Mississippi, and is best remembered for replacing Diana Ross as the lead singer of the Supremes in January 1970.

Jean's brother is the former WBA heavyweight boxing champion, Ernie Terrell.


Amongst other boxers, Ernie fought against Muhammad Ali.

During her childhood, Jean departed Belzoni and relocated to Chicago.

With her families encouragement, Jean began her singing career during the late 1960's and created a vocal family group called Ernie Terrell and the Heavyweights.

At the age of 24, Berry Gordy saw her performing in a venue in Miami Beach, and recruited her as a replacement for Diana Ross within the Supremes.

Before joining the group, Berry signed Jean as a solo artist allowing for a smooth transition into the Supremes ranks.

The Supremes then comprised of Jean, Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong, although Diana did perform live shows, during the transition, at evening gigs.

Across this time, Berry had considered Syreeta Wright for the group, although Jean was retained as the new vocalist at the request of the other group members.

The Supremes

Jean's choice proved to be a successful decision, resulting in several big hits for the group, including 'Up the Ladder to the Roof', 'Stoned Love', 'River Deep / Mountain High' (with the Four Tops), 'Nathan Jones', and 'Floy Joy'.

Following the single 'Floy Joy', Cindy Birdsong left the group's ranks to start a family.

Lynda Laurence (a former member of Stevie Wonder's group Wonderlove) was her replacement.

By 1973, Jean and Lynda decided the group should leave Motown for different musical challenges.

Motown, however, owned the name 'the Supremes', resulting in the two women leaving the group later that year.

The Supremes released 'Bad Weather', a song penned by Stevie Wonder tune, after which Scherrie Payne replaced Jean and Cindy Birdsong made a return to the groups ranks, replacing Lynda.

I Had To Fall In Love

i had to fall in love - 1978

Jean then signed with the A&M Records imprint, releasing 'I Had to Fall in Love', in 1978, following which, Jean retired for a short period from the industry.

By the 1980's Jean constructed a one woman show and began touring throughout the United States.

Lynda Laurence frequently performed background vocals for Jean in these shows.

Scherrie Payne was later approached by Superstar International records for a Supremes' reunion record project.

The Former Ladies of the Supremes comprised of Jean, Scherrie Payne, and Cindy Birdsong were formed in 1986.

After a couple of group changes, Jean left the Former Ladies of the Supremes to pursue business interests.

She has since released a biographical DVD of her life and has continued to sing onstage with various jazz musicians.

Levi StubbsJean Terrell

levi and clineice stubbs / jean terrell

In 2004, she appeared at the 'Live With Levi, 50 Years and Still Going' event, (commemorating 50 years of the Four Tops, with Levi Stubbs), anniversary event in Detroit.

Jean Terrell

Real Player


I Had to Fall in Love (A & M Records 1978)

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